Lets start with the facts: I got a blackberry at the end of last week. It's one of the new "BlackBerry Bold" devices. Which means GSM/HSDPA/etc from ATT. Which is a great improvement from the sucky (but surprisingly functional) flip phone that I've had for the last 2.5-3 years from Sprint. This is the first phone that I've had that has: an Internet connection, a messaging plan, and a reliable connection (sorry sprint). Though it's not the first time that I've had a PDA-class device. There's a story...

When I was in high school I did some writing for the interent on mobile technology (PDAs and so forth) right before "smartphones" came on the scene. I had a couple of the earliest PocketPCs and a PalmOS device, and I did some writing for a number of websites that covered this sort of thing. Because it seemed like the thing to do, and even back then (when I was still using Windows, egad) I was a pretty simplistic "read things and write things" kind of computer user, so these kinds of things made more sense than a laptop (given the state of technology, circa 2000-2002). Laptops got better and cheaper, I discovered Apple computers, and PDAs moved into cellphones, and I always had nice enough cellphones, but not particularly flashy cellphones. They did their job, and I was happy.

But then I got a job that requires me to be on the phone a fair piece, and reachable in a way that I haven't previously needed to be. And cellphones and data technology have improved and gotten a lot more reasonable and ubiquitous. And so there I was, looking at "smartphones" with only a little deja vu. I've written here about the iphone, and how I was leaning away from it. The near-completeness of my switch to Linux made an iPhone an even less attractive option, and so here I am with a blackberry. My response: incredibly positive. Let me go over (in list format) what I've done, and how my "system" works:

  • I'm using a lot of these web 2.0 apps in a way that I hadn't previously. Google Calendar [1] and Gmail-contacts sync with my phone via the Google BlackBerry Sync, which works great.
  • My email arrives on the BlackBerry via one of two means: someone sends something to my work email (which Blackberry accesses via IMAP) or someone sends me a message through one of my personal addresses and said message passes through a rather complex gmail-filter. I'm still tweaking the gmail filter every now and then, but it's it works.
  • The blackberry got me really using Remember the Milk, in concert with BBrtm and Tasque on the desktop (which is in Ubuntu Intrepid). The blackberry app is sub par, but functional. I hear the official blackberry app is less functional, and you have to pay for pro-service (25 bucks a year) which I'm not opposed to, but I'll need to think about it. Having the offline apps make this a really great service, and I'm a huge fan now.
  • I of course, have AIM and Gtalk, set up though I haven't used it much. And I have various SMS and MMS-based services set up (you tube uploading, twitter, set up, though I haven't turned on the "getting messages" part of that yet.
  • I have the opera mini web browser installed and like it a great deal, but I haven't done a lot of browsing yet, but that's not surprising: I don't browse the internet much on my desktop.
  • I have various other things that seem logical to get installed: google maps, the facebook app, flickr upload tool, the google search tool, the gmail app, but haven't dug into that very much. But I suspect these things will be nice to have.
  • For writing and note taking in the wild I have a secret email address that routes itself into a "notes" folder (I've used it before with Jott and I'm just sending myself emails and that seems to work just fine.

Everything else seems a bit borring. Left on my list of phone-related things that I'd like to see happen or have left to do:

  • Come to some peace about my RSS reading habits, so I can catch up on things on the phone.
  • Some sort of e-text reading software would be great. Particularly if there were a good way to get PDFs to appear right on the device. The screen's is very readable, and it just makes sense.
  • Even though one of my reasons for getting this and not and iphone was that I already had an iPod that I liked a lot, I have the perverse desire to listen to podcasts and maybe music on this thing. But I need to declare bankruptcy on podcast listening first and find some way to clean up the pieces there. In that direction, I think the Jabra bluetooth headset/controler looks like something worthwhile. As would a buttload of MicroSD storage space.
  • I'm using the stock leather holster at the moment for a case, and it's quite good, but I imagine that something else might be good.
  • I need to spend some time getting, making, and customizing ring tones, which is something that I've never done before, but I feel needs to be accomplished.

That's all the news that's fit to sing....

Onward and Upward!

[1]I've also given in and started to use Sunbird with google calendar for my desktop calendaring. It's sub-optimal, but it works.
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